The Blame Index: Exploring the Change in Social Work Students’ Perceptions of Poverty


This study reports the development of a new Blame Index to determine attributions of the causes of poverty along a single structural-to-individual dimension. A multisite pre-/post-group design tested the degree of change in social work students’ (N = 177) perception of poverty as a result of taking a single BSW social policy course or an MSW foundation social policy course. Student respondents reported a significant shift toward structural and away from individual attribution of the causes of poverty, more support for government antipoverty benefit programs, increased awareness of the inadequacy of existing government antipoverty programs, and increased awareness of the difficulty in accessing government antipoverty benefits. Linear regression explained 17% of the change in the Blame Index with only race/ethnicity and the change in adequacy of benefits as significant predictors.

Publication Title

Journal of Social Work Education